You have probably heard that the best way to cook a brisket is low and slow. Methods of checking for doneness include the probe test and monitoring the internal temperature. Once a probe slides in like butter or the internal temperature reaches between 180 and 200 F, your brisket can be pulled from the grill.
While this is great information, it doesn’t really help you determine how long the smoking or grilling process will take from start to finish. If you are trying to serve your guests at a specific time, it is most useful to know how long to smoke a brisket per pound. This article will help you calculate the cooking time for a brisket.
How Long to Smoke a Brisket Per Pound
How many hours per pound to smoke a brisket depends on the temperature of your smoker and the size and weight of the meat. In general, if smoking a brisket at 225, 1.5 to two hours per pound should get you juicy and tender results.
How Many Hours Per Pound to Smoke a Brisket
Hours-per-pound is a good rule of thumb for calculating how long to smoke a brisket, but it is not a hard and fast rule. The amount of cooking time per pound depends on a few factors but primarily on the cooking method and temperature. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours per pound.
To get a rough idea of how many hours to allow for preparing a brisket, we recommend following these guidelines. At 225 F, smoking a brisket takes about 1.5 to two hours per pound. At 250 F, it takes one to 1.5 hours per pound. At 300 F, it takes 30-45 minutes per pound.
That means a 12-pound brisket will take about 18 hours to cook at a temperature of 225 F and about 12 hours to cook at a temperature of 250 F. This gives you a rough idea, but be sure to allow extra time in case it takes longer than expected, and don’t forget to leave time for it to rest after it’s done.
Other Factors to Consider
The cooking temperature is not the only factor to consider. The size of the brisket should also be taken into account. The larger the brisket, the longer it will take to cook per pound because the heat takes more time to penetrate to the center of the beef.
Taking the meat out early and bringing it to room temperature can help shorten the cooking time. Another way to speed up the cooking process is to wrap it in foil or butcher paper. A 10 to 12-pound brisket will take from seven to nine hours to fully cook on a grill when wrapped in foil.
The cooking method and the type of smoker also impact the cooking time per pound. Every smoker type is unique, so you might need to use a trial and error method until you get to know your particular equipment.
Electric and gas smokers have consistent temperatures making it easier to predict cooking time per pound than for pit or barrel smokers. Keeping the lid closed contains heat and shortens the cooking time.
Other variables that affect the cooking time per pound are the thickness of the meat, the amount of fat, outside temperature, wind, humidity, the grade of the meat, and the composition of the meat tissue.
On a cold, windy evening, a brisket can take more than two hours per pound to cook. A higher grade of brisket that has more marbling and fat usually will cook more quickly than a lower grade.
Cooking brisket in the oven takes about one hour per pound. For good results, put it in a covered roasting pan with some liquid and set the temperature between 250 and 325 F. The cooking time per pound varies depending on the weight of the brisket.
Simmering it on a stovetop takes less time. A 10 to 12-pound brisket will cook in about five hours on a stovetop.
Fat Side Up or Down?
Whether you cook a brisket fat side up or down probably won’t affect the cooking time. Putting the fat side up is the more common choice. This is best if the heat source is coming from above the meat because the fat will help tenderize the meat.
Fat side down is preferred when the heat comes from below. In this case, the fat prevents the meat from sticking to the grate, and the bark will be crispier.
How Long to Cook a Small Brisket?
If you are cooking a small cut brisket that weighs just a few pounds, it won’t take nearly as long. In fact, you will want to check it frequently to be sure you don’t overcook it and dry it out.
Ways to Shorten the Cooking Time
If you are in a hurry and can’t wait all day for your brisket to be done, there are some things you can try to speed up the process. The most tempting way to move things along is to increase the temperature. At 300 F, your brisket will cook in much less time, but you risk ending up with a drier and less tasty end product.
You might also use the Texas crutch method to get through the stall faster. This involves taking the brisket off the grill when the internal temperature stalls at around 150 F, wrapping it in foil or pink butcher paper, and returning it to the smoker for several more hours of cooking.
Aluminum foil shortens the cooking time more than butcher paper does, but butcher paper is better for preserving the crisp bark because it is more porous. Wrapping the meat with this method can reduce the cooking time to about 45 minutes per pound without compromising on the smoky flavor and the bark.
Transferring your brisket to the oven to finish the cooking is another way to speed things up. Some purists frown on this, but it should not have much of an impact on the flavor.
Finally, you might want to abandon the whole low and slow method entirely and try a completely different approach. The hot and fast method does come with its challenges, so it’s important to know the right way to do it.
For starters, you should preheat your smoker to 350 F, and put the brisket fat side down in order to prevent burning the bottom. Wrap the brisket in foil when it reaches an internal temperature of 170 F. Put it back on the smoker, fat side up. Continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 203 F.
Even at 203 F, it might not be tender enough, so do check it with a probe before pulling it from the grill. It might need a bit more time. Although the end results might not be quite as amazing as with the low and slow method, hot and fast will have you sitting down to eat in about half the time.
Keep in mind that opening the lid of the smoker frequently will cause the grill temperature to fluctuate and interfere with the cooking. A probe with an external monitor allows you to keep track of the internal temperature without opening the smoker.
Resting the brisket after it is done is a final step that adds to the total prep time for smoked brisket. Some people rest their brisket for a short time, but we recommend resting it for two to four hours. Wrap it in towels and place it in a warm cooler until the internal temperature cools to about 160 F.
While there is no definitive answer to the question of how long to smoke a brisket per pound, these guidelines can help you get a general idea of how long it will take to smoke a brisket from start to finish. Knowing how much time to allow will help to keep your guests from waiting too long for a delicious barbecue meal.